Unleash your passion and be the best you could be

Paying it forward to young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)

Lebo Mokoallo - aircraft maintenance technician and drone pilot
01 July 2022

We have often heard the importance of finding your calling, following and living it. What if you do not know your calling yet and what if it changes over time? Growing up I was set on becoming an accountant and thought it was my calling. I  enrolled for a BCom Account at the University of Free State. It was only when I had an opportunity to spend time in an accounting firm that I realised that being an accountant is not what I wanted to be.

It was a challenge trying to find my purpose. That is when I also learned that self-discovery can be a challenging and often never-ending pursuit. Having to master what you’re good at and finding your talent is not as easy as one would think.

Lebo Mokoallo, aircraft maintenance technician, a drone pilot with BVLOS rating and drone pilot instructor.

Through reading books, following entrepreneurs and listening to motivational talks which encouraged me to make the most of what I have, I opened up myself to new possibilities. One afternoon I was told of an Accredited Maintenance Organisation (AMO) that was looking to train aircraft maintenance technicians. I went through the application process and interviews.

I knew about airlines, not the AMO’s (the technical side). I did not really know much about the vast careers in the aviation industry. I decided to explore the industry and never looked back. I qualified as an aircraft maintenance technician. I then received a bursary and went on to qualify as a drone pilot. With a technical trade and a drone licence, I thought it would be easy to get a job. Little did I know that the drone industry was still its infancy and I required more qualifications to get considered for a job.

Lebo at work, piloting a drone.

I applied for Girls Fly Programme Africa (GFPA) drone technology skills development programme in partnership with UNICEF. During the first week we had a personal development, and technical workshop. We were introduced to drone technology application, 3D modelling and printing.

Post the workshops I went on to qualify as a drone flight instructor thorough the GFPA programme (meaning qualified to teach and train anyone to become a drone pilot or obtain drone qualifications). After graduation, I was employed as a drone pilot assist for a local drone company (the director was the guest speaker at the GFPA graduation). I then obtained my Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) training through the company that employed me after graduation. I will be starting a new job as a drone training instructor for a local flight school, utilizing the rating I received through GFPA.

I have also learned that small random act of kindness goes a long way and leaves the greatest impact. I have had a fair share of people supporting  me along my journey. The support  from GFPA and other organisation has proven that passion and consistency is equal to success. The foundation awakened a dream I had as a girl and it has made me not to disappoint the little girl I was with big dreams.

The motivational talks that GFPA had with all the alumni on finding our purpose and opening yourself to more in life when others don't see your potential is the greatest gift you could give yourself.

Being associated with GFPA made me realize there is more to be done and it ignited the passion to also pay it forward. I am also currently working with another organisation as a student instructor using drones to teach (science, technology, engineering, aviation and maths) STEAM principles.

Ready to take flight.

It took me a while to find my calling and it was through exploring opportunities that I truly find something I am passionate about. Today I am aircraft maintenance technician, a drone pilot with BVLOS rating, A drone pilot instructor and have spent time paying it forward and impacting the next generations.

To the youth of South Africa, I’d like to say:

  1. You never know who is in the room with you. I had met and interacted with both my current employer and future employer in different settings and when the job opening came out, I was given the opportunity.
  2. It is okay to not know what you want to be or do. That is why programmes such as the job shadowing are important for you to explore.
  3. Believe that the little girl or boy in you is waiting for you to unleash your passion and be the best you could be. I have got dreams that are worth more than my sleep and I hope you do too and know that you will never always be motivated - discipline and focus are key.

About the Girls Fly Programme in Africa

The Girls Fly Programme in Africa (GFPA) is an information and educational Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programme for primary, high school and post-school girl learners with a focus on aviation and space.